Innovative Dental Management

New Technology Can Cause Ripples With Staff

Manage The Change For A Smooth Transition

I was once told at a seminar that in any given organization, when change was introduced, typically 20% of the staff were ‘on board’ and ready to accommodate the new processes or systems; 60% were skeptical of the change; the other 20% were characterized as ‘resistant’ – in other words, they didn’t want to see the changes put in place and would not adapt readily.

The seminar leader went on to say that “the 20% who were resistant didn’t matter anyway, since they didn’t produce much.”

Up to that point, I had been nodding my head, buying into what he was saying but wait… 20% of the staff don’t produce much and don’t matter? That’s a BIG number. In a large organization, the impact of having 20% of staff being relatively non-productive is one thing. In a smaller environment, like a dental practice, it could be catastrophic.

Frankly, I would say that these numbers aren’t quite accurate for a smaller, professional environment, but that being said, there is value in the lesson that MOST people don’t handle change well, are in fact fearful of it. Transitions in any organization need to be planned and managed, to avoid creating too many unpleasant waves. Here are a few tips:

Change must come from the top

If you, as the owner of the dental practice, don’t buy into the change, neither will your staff. The same is true of your partners, if any. It’s a top-down buy-in. You need to be confident in the choices you have made, whether it’s for a new website or a scheduling / patient management system in order for it to be accepted readily by your dental staff.

Show them the value

Change for the sake of it is rarely welcomed by anyone but if a person can be shown the merit of a new system, equipment or technology, if they can be shown what the advantages are and how it will make their working lives better / more efficient / more error-free, they will embrace it.

In a busy dental practice, there will be discomfort with the fact that training will take up valuable work time (or even infringe on personal time), that the learning curve will slow things down. Those things are probably true, at least at first. Showing your staff that the return on investment will be worth their time is what change management is all about.

Make sure everyone is trained

The key to managing any new change in equipment or technology is to ensure that adequate dental staff training is provided. That training needs to be more than generic – it needs to factor in real world situations that the dental team are already dealing with so that they can see the applicability of the system and how it will improve their lives. The incentive to learn grows exponentially when adults are provided with relatable, applicable information that leverages their existing knowledge.

For example, if you are upgrading from one patient management / scheduling system to a new one, the trainer needs to be clear on what is different and what is the same, between the two systems. This way, the new system can be presented and trained in a way that makes sense to your dental staff.

Take care that people are comfortable

Even with training, some people simply won’t be immediately comfortable with a big technology change in their work environment. Not everyone grew up with an iPad in one hand and a smartphone in the other. It’s an important part of the plan to allow individuals more time to adapt, if they need it. Allowing people to progress and improve, with support, at their speed will improve their confidence. Throwing them in the fire is just bad for business.

You can’t force people into change – you have to show them the light, figuratively speaking, and allow them to understand it all at a comfortable pace, motivating a desire to improve without fear.

You need to do the work that you enjoy and that capitalizes on your skills and education. In other words, do what you do best. You don’t need to be bogged down in marketing plans and management conundrums. Let others do that.

Contact the experts at Dental Management Advisors and we’ll help you get back to doing more of what you love.


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